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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, as the noble Lord explained, Amendments Nos. 6 and 24, require that the power to appoint and remove members of the commission would be exercisable only on an Address from both Houses of Parliament as opposed to the House of Commons only, as the Bill presently provides. He makes a case for amending the Bill in that way and prays in aid the important role that this House has in our constitutional arrangements. I understand the argument but I am not entirely in agreement with it.

Similarly, Amendment No. 8 would require the remuneration of electoral commissioners to be approved by an Address of both Houses. The existing provisions are modelled on those for the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General. There is good reason for regarding the appointment of electoral commissioners as also being a matter to be dealt with in another place.

Just a few moments ago, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, made the point that there should be consultation between the leaders of the political parties on appointments to the commission. That is very important and very telling. Such leaders are, of course, drawn from the membership of another place.

The key purpose of the arrangements for appointment is to ensure that those appointed have the confidence of the chief participants in the electoral process; namely, the main political parties. Clause 3(2) accordingly requires that the leaders of those political parties be consulted before a motion for an Address is brought forward. If it is right, as I believe it is, that the consultative process should focus upon the parties represented in the elected chamber, it follows that the formal business of moving an Address should be dealt with there too. That is a very important point of principle. Given the functions of the electoral commission, it would be difficult to justify a similar role for your Lordships' House.

With those thoughts in mind, I hope that the noble Viscount will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Astor: I am not very happy with the Ministers reply for a number of reasons. He gave a comparison with the Comptroller and Auditor General. That is an entirely wrong comparison because the role of the Comptroller and Auditor General relates to finance. He deals with matters which are purely to do with the other place; they are not matters which come under the remit of your Lordships' House. This Bill comes under the remit of both Houses.

The Minister described the consultation in another place on such issues, but that also is an irrelevant argument. We are not talking about political parties

11 May 2000 : Column 1773

but about an order made to Parliament. We are saying that it should be made to both Houses of Parliament, not only the one. That is quite wrong.

I am sorry that the Minister is not prepared to consider the arguments I have put forward. With that in mind, I shall seek leave to test the opinion of the Committee.

6.36 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 136.

Division No. 2


Ampthill, L.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Crickhowell, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Howe, E.
Jopling, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Onslow, E.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rogan, L.
Seccombe, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Waddington, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Colville of Culross, V.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Diamond, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gale, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Levy, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mishcon, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

11 May 2000 : Column 1774

6.46 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 7:

    Page 98, line 39, at end insert--

    ("( ) An Electoral Commissioner may be relieved of his office by Her Majesty at his own request.
    ( ) In this paragraph "registered party" includes, in relation to times before the appointed day for the purposes of Part II of this Act, a party registered under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment has already been spoken to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 9 to 16.

    Page 99, line 34, leave out ("sub-paragraph (2)") and insert ("sub-paragraphs (1A) and (2)").

11 May 2000 : Column 1775

    Page 99, line 36, leave out from beginning to ("are") in line 38 and insert--

    ("(1A) A Deputy Electoral Commissioner shall cease to hold office on the occurrence of such an event as is mentioned in any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of paragraph 3(3).
    (2) A Deputy Electoral Commissioner may be removed from office by the Commission, but only if they").

    Page 100, line 13, at end insert--

    ("( ) A person may not be appointed as an Assistant Electoral Commissioner if he is a person who (by virtue of section 3(3A)) may not be appointed as an Electoral Commissioner.").

    Page 100, line 17, at beginning insert ("(subject to sub-paragraph (2A))").

    Page 100, line 17, at end insert--

    ("(2A) An Assistant Electoral Commissioner shall cease to hold office on the occurrence of such an event as is mentioned in any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of paragraph 3(3).").

    Page 101, line 5, at end insert--

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